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COVID-19: SLFA Donates LE 656 Million Solidarity Boost for Clubs and Players
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Isha Johansen is the second current female football association President in the world along with Lydia Nsekera of Burundi
Isha Johansen is the second current female football association President in the world along with Lydia Nsekera of Burundi

The President of the Sierra Leone Football Association, SLFA Isha Tejan-Cole Johansen has confirmed that six hundred and fifty-six million Leones (Le 656,000,000) has been donated to Premier, First, and Second Division clubs in the country as a solidarity contribution by SLFA, as per the SLFA Media Department.

Four hundred and six million Leones (Le 406,000,000) will be distributed to 14 Premier clubs and Two hundred and Fifty Million Leones (Le 250,000,000) contribution goes to the Five Regional football Associations to be spread out and allocated to the respective lower division clubs (Division One and Two).

The novel coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact in the sporting domain as leagues across Africa, and many parts of the world have been put on hold. Football in Sierra Leone has equally been affected.

“These are abnormal and truly worrying times, and the only instinctive reaction these days are how to protect and be protected. As a parent football body in Sierrra Leone, we have a duty to support and protect each other,” Isha Johansen remarked.

Financial donations are not the only gesture from SLFA. In addition to financial boost, several hundreds of face masks will be distributed to SLFA staff and clubs.

All football activities in the nation has been put on hold until further notice as a part of the precautions against the spread of the coronavirus.

A statement by SLFA signed by General Secretary Chris Kamara explained that it was taking the decision following the world football governing body’s recommendations while tasking all clubs and football connected bodies to conform to the instructions.

“In line with the government’s effort in preventing the coronavirus, and in compliance with the FIFA recommendations to its member associations for general precaution, the Sierra Leone Football Association has suspended all football related activities across the country effective today, Tuesday 17th March 2020,” the communiqué read in part.

“SLFA is encouraging all Clubs, Regional and District Football Association and its affiliates including but not limited to Mini Leagues and officials to comply with the directives to protect fans, players, coaches, and everyone involved in the beautiful game of football, and most importantly to prevent the virus from entering in Sierra Leone.”

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COVID-19: Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba and others hit out at using Africa as “Guinea pigs” to test Potential Vaccine
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

L-R Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba blast calls for the test of a potential vaccine for the deadly coronavirus to be carried out in Africa
L-R Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba blast calls for the test of a potential vaccine for the deadly coronavirus to be carried out in Africa

Four times African Player of the Year, and Cameroon great, Samuel Eto’o Fils and Ivorian Legend Didier Drogba have both hit out at “racist” and “contemptuous” calls made by two doctors on French TV calling for the test of a potential vaccine for the deadly coronavirus to be carried out in Africa.

A video of the doctors’ comment was posted on Twitter by Senegalese forward and Former Newcastle and Chelsea player Demba Ba

Demba Ba wrote: “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and stupidity become commonplace. TIME TO RISE

There are ongoing studies on the possibility of using the BCG vaccine that has previously been used for Tuberculosis, as a possible preventive vaccine for the coronavirus.

“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, and no resuscitation? Professor Jean-Paul Mira, Head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris asked on French TV.

“The same as for some AIDS studies where prostitutes try things because we know they are unprotected,” He added

Professor Camille Locht replied: “You are right. We are currently thinking in parallel about a study in Africa to make this same type of approach with the BCG.”

“There is a tender process that has gone out or is going to go out. We will seriously think about that. That doesn’t prevent us from thinking in parallel about a study in Europe, and Australia,” He added

Multiple awards winner Samuel Eto’o vented out his anger as he replied to Ba’s video on Twitter as he held nothing back. “Sons of Bitches,” He said.

“You are SH*T. Africa isn’t yours to play with,” the former Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Chelsea player said on Instagram.

Two-time African player of the year winner Didier Drogba equally vented out his frustration as he called the comments “absurd” while advocating against the use of Africa as “guinea pigs.”

“It is inconceivable that we continue to accept this,” Drogba wrote on Twitter. “Africa is not a laboratory. I strongly denounce this racist and contemptuous remark.” “Help us safe lives in Africa, and stop the spread of this virus which is destabilizing the whole world, instead of considering us as guinea pigs. It is absurd.”

He went on to add: “African leaders have the responsibility to protect their people from these heinous plots.”

Scientists across the globe are in a race against time to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus. Health specialist note that it could take 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is produce as it has to go through various tests before it is certified.

Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said earliest the US could possibly get a vaccine would be in 12 or even 18 months — “at least.”

40 vaccines for the coronavirus are in development right now, according to the World Health Organization. A number of labs have begun human trials.

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Insight Into The Rainbow Model For Sports and Development In Africa
March 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

 Rainbow Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong is taking the lead when it comes to blending sports and development in Africa
Rainbow Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong is taking the lead when it comes to blending sports and development in Africa

While many young stars view the exploits of superstars like Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’0, Patrick Mboma, Sadio Mane and others in awe and will like to emulate them, the complex dynamics and structures of football management in Africa make the odds very slim. In structures like the Rainbow World Group, Africa is coming to terms with the fact that beyond entertainment, sports can be a critical ingredient in sustainable development and that talent can be programmed to succeed.

With stakes in in energy, telecoms, sports and media, the Rainbow World Group is impacting lives in a positive way with creating jobs and driving prosperity across Africa. PAV caught up Rainbow Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong, and James Woods-Nkhutabasa Regional Director, Rainbow Sports to get  insight into the operations of the group and its sports section which is shaping up to be a reference in Africa.

Could we start this interview by getting an introduction of the Rainbow World Group in general and Rainbow football in particular?

Rainbow World Group (RWG) is a diversified holding company with interests in sports, investments and trading in Africa. It is a Pan-African proprietary investment company which is driving development within the African continent, as well as globally. We specialize in building and growing businesses that last. Our investments in Sports, Media, Energy, Telecoms, just to cite a few, are helping to create jobs, build economies, drive prosperity, and eventually transform lives of ordinary people in Africa.

Rainbow football on the other hand is a division of RWG, which focuses its investments in the football industry. Rainbow football operates a global sports management company covering the entire sports value chain including but not limited to sports marketing and management, sports franchise ownership, sports financing and consulting. In regard to the sports franchise ownership, we currently own Rainbow Football Club in Cameroon and MFK Vyškov in the Czech Republic.

Rainbow football explores specific opportunities pertaining to on-field talent which can be integrated within its parent company and serves as a link between Africa and the rest of the world in activities such as talent identification, retention, development and management.

In what parts of Africa do you have operations?

Africa generally is our home of operations where we then extend these operations globally. We are currently pursuing projects with international partners in sub-Saharan Africa. Our specific focused operations at the moment are found in Cameroon, Tanzania, DRC, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Kenya, Benin, while we also have satellite operations in other African nations. Malawi is also a terrain our group has an interest in on the football front and other areas of  investment.   

James Woods Nkhutabasa is Regional Director at Rainbow Sports. The out fit is slowly but steadily expanding its operations to all corners of Africa
James Woods Nkhutabasa is Regional Director at Rainbow Sports. The out fit is slowly but steadily expanding its operations to all corners of Africa

What does football represent for Africa today and how could it be a factor in building a better future for the continent?

Football is the most popular sport in Africa just as it is in the world. It is embedded in the social realities of the continent and it is played, watched or followed almost everywhere in the continent. This tells you the level of attachment and passion we Africans have with this beautiful game. This therefore represents a form of HOPE for Africa. Young people use it to dream of a better future for the continent.

Through football a lot can be achieved that can change the narrative of the African continent. Due to the love and association to the sports of lots of African, it can used as an educational portal for the young African population, as well as it can be used to bring infrastructural development in most areas of the continent. For example, football instill a lot of relevant life skills in those involved that it can be transferred into other works of life. Discipline, Leadership, teamwork, are just some of the very important skills gotten out of the game that can be further enhanced in the youths of the continent if this game is factored in properly in the building of the continent. That is why we at Rainbow Football, are putting in place an educational program which will have a high level of impact in the youths of our operating areas that will help in their future development and hence leading to a better future of the continent in its own small way.

May we know how you identify the talents that you work with?

Well the identification of gifted and talented young players requires specialist knowledge of the game and a deep understanding of athletic potential, psychological profiling and motivation. We have drawn upon knowledge from the growing body of research and expertise gathered throughout football and other professions to aid the identification of talented and gifted young people and have built a leading understanding of its potential to support our recruitment process.

We possess ties to a strong and extensive network of scouts, coaches, club and academy owners across Africa. In addition to our own scouting team and processes, we are often contacted when promising players show themselves.

Furthermore, we host open trials across Africa which gives recruiters significant access and exposure to unseen talent that can emanate from areas across the region. We then supplement the on-ground presence with extensive video review analysis.

That’s how we identify the talents we work with. I believe that our strong competitive advantage its our ability and willingness to scout in places that which scouting organizations will not go to or may not know exist nor have easy access to get there.

Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong is committed to making young African talent emulate the example of icons like Didier Drogba in optimising their full potential
Founder and CEO Kingsley Pungong is committed to making young African talent emulate the example of icons like Didier Drogba in optimising their full potential

When you identify the talents what next, what is it Rainbow does to help have successful careers?

When a talent is identified, the next step is to figure out where the player can be placed in order to have a successful career. Nonetheless, we undergo a couple of procedures in house to make sure all is in order before having them move.

When this happens, the player is signed to one of Rainbow’s teams through a standard FIFA approved player contract where they either play for the team or gets loaned/transferred to a professional club in our network of club contact, either in the USA, Europe, China (Asia) or Latin America. This helps to give the players further exposure in terms of visibility and development to attract top clubs.

Younger players (U18) are sent into academy structures to complete their secondary education (a key component that we value) and for further development of their already strong football skills where they will become eligible to play professional football upon graduation, given they will have reached 18 years of age.

May we know some of the famed football products or stars that you can use to show case the success of Rainbow?

Sure, we have a few famed players, though I can say most of our players do pretty well for their clubs and country and are still young with a very bright future ahead of them.

There is Christian Bassogog who plays in the top flight Chinese Super League, for Henan Jainye, and for the National team of Cameroon. He was best player of the 2017 African Nations Cup. He is one of the best forwards in his league.

There is Nohou Tolo, who plays for Seattle Sounders and Cameroon U23 National Team; Olivier Mbaizo for Philadelphia Union and Cameroon U23 national Team; Brian Anunga for Nashville SC; Alfusainey Jatta for Saalfelden in Austria and The Gambia; Michee Ngalina for Philadelphia Union; Oyongo Bitolo who plays for Montpelier in France and Cameroon’s National side; Yamikani Chester who spent 2019 at North Carolina FC and joined Las Vegas Lights for 2020 – he is star player for the Malawi National side. These are just few of the ones I can mention now and definitely in the near future most of our players will be top stars as a number of them have already attracted interest from clubs in top European and Asian leagues.

Indomitable Lions star and AFCON winner Christian Bassogog is one of the success stories of Rainbow Sports
Indomitable Lions star and AFCON winner Christian Bassogog is one of the success stories of Rainbow Sports

When Rainbow is placing a player with a foreign club  what criteria is taken into consideration…the USA major league is not the most competitive, the Chinese league may be flowing with money but still not the most mediatized, so do prioritize monetary gain or an avenue where the player will grow in talent and career like Europe?

Our major concern is the player’s future development as we know how to ensure they develop in the right infrastructure, by doing so there is a higher likelihood of a successful career. However, we have a strategic approach to player placement across the global ecosystem and take certain key factors into consideration.

The key factors we look are:

  • Fit into its “Growth and exposure” strategy,
  • The style of play; which club does the players style of play fit with?
  • Player’s interest: where the player’s desire lies,
  • Status of the transfer window as it differs by country,
  • The Demand available, and
  • The Economics of the opportunity for the player, the club and our company.

As earlier mentioned, we host African combines twice a year to give teams from around the world access to players in our network. This often leads to deals for players being made during and immediately after these events.

For those aspiring to have successful careers and benefit from the expertise of Rainbow, what recommendations or advise do you have for them?

In our experience we have worked with all sorts of players, partners, clubs and affiliates. We have a well-informed understanding of what kind of player is going to make a successful career or not. Thus, the advice we give to aspiring talents is that they should be focused on their dream, be determined, have a strong work ethic and be disciplined. Talent is just about 20% of what a player needs to be successful. Those who keep a level head and work harder achieve a very successful career.

Malawian star Yamikani Chester is part of the Rainbow franchise
Malawian star Yamikani Chester is part of the Rainbow franchise

May we know some of the challenges that you typically face?

When you are working in the African space, this is one aspect you can not miss in your operations. However just like any other operations we have numerous issues we get to deal with in order to achieve our goals on a daily basis.

Firstly, the lack of investment at the grassroots level makes it challenging for the development of top talents that can compete at the global stage. Very few academies or organizations really invest or have the resources to invest rightly in player development at the grassroots level. As such you come across talents who require a lot more effort to be ready for the big stage.

Another major challenge is the lack of sporting/football infrastructure to support the countries’ football development or level of competitiveness. Take for example Cameroon which has been a top football country for decades but it is only now that we can boast of a couple top level football stadia only because we have to host the 2021 African Nations Cup, which was even withdrawn in 2019 because the infrastructure was not ready.

These are jut some of the challenges with a lot more that we have to deal with like corruption, lack of integrity and incompetence as well.

There have been complains that the quality of the game in Africa as dropped and most young African footballers only dream of playing in Europe with some staking all to get out of the continent only to end up frustrated, what is it Rainbow is doing or thinking of doing to strengthen the domestic leagues or grow local talent in Africa?

It is true that the quality of the game has dropped and it’s partly due to the reasons I mentioned earlier. The best talents are taken out because they can’t be rewarded well in their countries as such the quality of play is not top.

What we need to do is to think about working together as actors in the industry to create avenues to further develop talents locally and hence the game within the continent. That is why in our own capacity at Rainbow football, we are taking steps towards this because we believe there is a bright future for the game in Africa.

We have developed a process to promote and support the development of a world leading talent identification, recruitment, mentoring and management system which we call the RAINBOW WAY. It aims to deliver an environment that promotes excellence, nurtures talent and systematically converts these talents into professional players capable of playing first team football at the highest levels of the global game.

We are also thinking of investing heavily in football clubs to create top level professional clubs which will permit for top talents to still be held within the continent and achieve their career goals of making a living out of the game. This we hope will attract top talents as well with push the governments and other actors in the industry to put heads and hands together to build a better future for the game within the continent. Investment in football on the continent is often left to the government, which cannot sustain the sport hence why we see ourselves and a key player and catalyst in investing, supporting and enhancing the already existing structures, driving forward a robust commercialization of the sport and also attracting more involvement from the private sector.  

How do you see the future of the game in Africa, and what more does Rainbow envisage to continue playing a leading role?

The future of the game in Africa is very bright. Just as many European nations have been running back to invest in other sectors in Africa termed Neocolonialism, so to there will be opportunities in football. Due to its low development at the moment, it can only get more attention for future development.

We are proud of having built the most extensive pan-African talent recruitment network. Successful talent identification and recruitment of players of all ages is vital to the future development of African football. This is a pivotal aspect of the Rainbow Way. Talent identification is a fundamental concern for African football and its youth development system. The Rainbow Way through its management, coaches and support staff have clearly defined roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis the identification of the very best talent on the continent. Its core strength is in yielding opportunities to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns in a complex and challenging yet lucrative region while at the same time contributing to the socio-economic development of the continent.

At Rainbow Football, we believe exceptional youth talent is central to the creation and the advancement of a better positioning of the African contribution to the world’s leading sport. Through the Rainbow Way, we plan to continue developing independent decision makers through the education provided that will ensure support to players to be able to achieve their full potential both in and out of the game. These tools will go a long way in contributing to the development of the future of African football.

* *Culled from March Issue of PAV Magazine

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Cameroon: Japoma Stadium to host CAF Champions League Final
March 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The fifty (50) thousand capacity Japoma Stadium located in Cameroon’s economic capital Douala has been confirmed by the Confederation of African Football, CAF as the venue for the CAF Champions League Final.

Cameroon (Japoma Stadium), Tunisia (Stade Olympique de Rades) and Morocco (Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca) were the bidders to host the prestigious event that will take place on 29 May 2020.

This year’s final will be for the first time played over a single game as opposed to previous finals played over two legs for the past fifty years. The reason for the change of the final is due to the chaotic end to last season’s competition, a final that is still being disputed at the Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS.

The 2020 final in West Africa will feature two teams from the North. In the semi-finals, Moroccan teams Wydad and Raja Casablanca are facing opponents from Egypt Al Ahly and Zamalek, respectively.

The Japoma Stadium is amongst the stadia to host this year’s edition of the Africa Nations Championship, CHAN which begins April 4 to 25, 2020. It is still unclear whether the competition will go on with the present wave of the deadly coronavirus that is sweeping across Africa.

However, CAF has continued to indicate that it has no plans of rescheduling or cancelling the African showpiece. The body has taken measures to reduce the spread of the pandemic as it suspended the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifying header scheduled for late March and early April, while the Women’s U-20 World Cup qualifiers and the Women’s AFCON 2020 qualifiers have also been postponed, and will be rescheduled.

The newly built stadium will equally serve as one of the venues for the 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON scheduled for January to February 2021. 

CAF has equally approved the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco to host the final of the CAF Confederation Cup final. The stadium was the only bid for the second tier of the continent’s interclub competition. The final is scheduled for May 24.

Edyptian side Pyramids FC take on Horoya from Guinea in the first semi-final, while the second is an all-Moroccan affair as RS Berkane will battle against Hassania Agadir

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Cameroon’s International footballer donates 10 million Frs to stranded students in coronavirus-hit China
March 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Christian Bassogog

Cameroon’s International striker Christian Bassogog has donated some 10 million CFA francs to Cameroonian students residing in areas struck by the deadly coronavirus in China.

The money destined for students stranded in the city of Wuhan which has been under quarantine since 23 January he says, is to assist the young Cameroonians and to reassure them that they have not been forgotten by their ‘countrymen’.

“China holds a special place in my heart and this is where I exercise my profession,” said Bassogog after meeting the Minister for External Relation of Cameroon. 

Urging people of goodwill to follow in his path and support affected victims, he said, “this money is intended to help Cameroonian nationals living in China, in particular students. It is important that we meet in such times and show such support and love to the needy. We want more Cameroonians around the world to reach out and support not only their compatriots but also China as a nation”.

The 24-year-old footballer, who plays club football with the Chinese Super League Henan Jianye, is currently in Yaoundé following the suspension of the championship in China because of the virus.

His donation comes after President Paul Biya also ordered that 50 Million frs be made available to the country’s embassy in Beijing to provide assistance to Cameroonians living in the affected areas.

Cameroon’s embassy in China says about 300 Cameroonians, mainly students, are living in Hubei Province, considered the epicentre of the Coronavirus epidemic.

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Gambia Unveils Provisional Squad 2021 AFCON Qualifiers against Gabon
March 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Gambia’s Scorpions Head Coach Tom Saintfiet has submitted a provisional 35-man squad for the upcoming 2021 AFCON double header against Gabon on 26th March, 2020.

The selection features a consistent pool of players who have represented the Scorpions under the Belgian. One notable addition in the list is Young Boys FC player Saidy Janko who has recently been visited by Saintfiet during his scouting tour across Europe.

The provisional list will be trimmed to 23 players within a period of two weeks after which the final 23 man squad will travel to Gabon for the first leg to be played on Thursday 26th March, 2020, with the return in Banjul scheduled for Monday 30th March 2020.

Goal Keepers

Modou JOBE (Jeddah FC, Saudi Arabia), Sheikh SIBI (Virtus Verona, Italy), Baboucarr GAYE (VFB Stuttgart, Germany)

Defenders

Pa Modou JAGNE (FC Zürich, Switzerland), Ibou TOURAY (Salford City, England), Alieu Jatta (Casa Sport, Senegal), Omar COLLEY (Sampdoria, Italy), Mohammed MBYE (Sweden), Bubacarr SANNEH (KV Oostende, Belgium), Maudo Jarju (Austria Wien, Austria), Sulayman BOJANG (Sarpsborg 08, Norway), Ngine Faye NJIE (Casa Sport, Senegal)

Midfield Players

Alasana MANNEH (Górnik Zabrze, Poland), Dawda NGUM (Bronshoj, Denmark), Ebou ADAMS (Forest Green Rovers, England),Simon Richter (Bronshoj, Denmark), Saidy Janko ( Young Boys Bern, Switzerland), Ebrima Sohna (FC Mosta, Malta), Yusupha Bobb (Lecco, Italy), Sulayman MARREH (AA Gent, Belgium), Hamza BARRY (Hajduk Split, Croatia), Ablie JALLOW (AC Ajaccio, France), Ebrima COLLEY (Atalanta, Italy),

Attackers

Assan CEESAY (VFL Osnabruck, Germany), Bubacarr JOBE (Mjällby, Sweden),Muhammed BADAMOSI (FUS Rabat, Morocco), Adama Jammeh (Etoile Du Sahel, Tunisia), Lamin Jallow (Salernitana, Italy), Musa Juwara (FC Bologna, Italy) Modou BARROW (Denizlispor Turkey) Musa Barrow (FC Bologna, Italy), Alassana Jatta (Viborg FF Denmark), Nuha Krubally Marong (Granada, Spain), Abdoulie Sanyang (Lommel SK, Belgium), Baboucarr Steve Trawally (Ajman FC UAE).

The general Public is further informed that Leon Guwara (FC Utrecht, Holland) Bakery Jatta (Hamburger SV, Germany), Noah Sonko Sundeberg ( FK Ostersunds, Sweden ) and Alexander Jallow  (FK Goteborg, Sweden ) are not yet available for national duties.

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Mount Cameroon Race of Hope: Godlove Gabsibuin, Tatah Carine Crowned Champions
February 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Gabsibuin and Flavious won the CAMTEL Prize for reaching the summit the first in the male and female categories respectively
Gabsibuin and Flavious won the CAMTEL Prize for reaching the summit the first in the male and female categories respectively

North West athletes continue to dominate the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope as Godlove Gabsibuin Bobuin and Tatah Carine, all from the North West Region were crowned champions in the male and female categories respectively.

The 25th anniversary of the race which took place Saturday, February 22, 2020, saw 500 athletes taking part in the race. Prior to the race, there were some 550 athletes who registered for the race but some 50 were disqualified on race day due to health concerns.

Godlove Gabsibuin won the race in 4hrs, 35mins, 50sec ahead of former champion Ndongeh Simplice (4hrs, 37mins, 56sec), and Elvis Nsabinla (4hrs, 42mins, 10sec). It was his fifth victory in the competition becoming the most successful male athlete in race, surpassing the great Tata Thomas who is on four victories. Gabsibuin won in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018, and now 2020.

Speaking to the press, Gabsibuin said: “to win the race is just for you to watch your speed. It is not like you are running 100 km. I am an elder person in the field, and I know how to watch my speed.”

The race this year unfortunately saw the non-participation of defending champion Mbatcha Eric. Eric who is in Finland posted a message saying he would not be participating in the race due to threats on his life and family.

Gabsibuin Godlove runs to collect FCFA 10 millionn as winner of the Mount Cameroon race of Hope, his fifth victory
Gabsibuin Godlove runs to collect FCFA 10 millionn as winner of the Mount Cameroon race of Hope, his fifth victory

Three in a row for Tata Carine

22-year-old Tatah Carine made in three victories in a row in the race after she won it in 2018, 2019, and now 2020. She won the race in 5hrs, 25mins ahead of Kitang Mildred, who came in 5hrs, 27mins, and Wingo Kpuufonla in third position (5hrs, 32mins). In wining, Tatah Carine bagged home the prize money of FCFA 10million.

Tatah Carine is seen by many as a serious contender to challenge the records of Serah Etonge and Ngwaya Yvonne.

She however has a long way to go to be crowned as the best female athlete to ever run the race. One record is in her sight to break — the most consecutive victories in the race. Serah Etonge and Ngwaya Yvonne both sit at four successive victories, with Tatah Carine now on three victories. Should she succeed in winning the race in 2021, she will be tied with the greats and looking to overtake them in consecutive victories.

Serah Etonge’s “Queen of the Mountain” title still stands

For several years now Serah Liengu Etonge’s title has been threatened by Ngwaya Yvonne. The two women are the most successful athletes in the competition, and in the female category — both are on seven victories.

Winners in the female category
Winners in the female category

While Serah Etonge has retired from the race, Ngwaya Yvonne is still going strong, though the past three years has not seen her victorious. Last year, Ngwaya Yvonne finished on the third position but this year, she was placed fourth.

“I am not afraid that my record will be beaten,” Serah Etonge told this reporter when asked about her record being surpassed. “I am not going to compare myself with young children. I am a mother who gave birth to several children, and the others are still very young.”

Since Serah Etonge last won in 2005 in the female category and Tata Thomas (1992, 1996, and 1998) in the male category, no athlete from Buea or the Fako Division has ever been successful in clinching the title. Lyonga Samuel Esombe has come close to breaking that hurdle with a third place finish. This year he could only come in 9th position.

Lyonga Samuel has noted that the attack he suffered last year as he was training for the 2019 edition is still being felt and was the reason for his poor showing this year.

Serah Etonge said she is surprised that no one from this Division has been able to do that. She said: “Discipline is a key to success. You can educate people on the race, tell them what to do to prepare but you cannot run for them or know what is in their mind. We hope that something will be done in that light.”

One of the innovations for this year was the introduction of prize money (FCFA 500,000) for the first athletes in both categories to reach the summit. Godlove Gabsibuin of Cameroon and Flavious Teresa of Kenya both scooped the prize money.

Foreigners making great strides in the Race

Since Mike Short from Great Britain (1984 and 1985), and Rev Stifter Walter from Italy (1976, 1977, and 1978) in the male category and Diamentides Helen from Great Britain (1988), Rueda Fabiola from Argentina (1989), and Smith Sally Gold from Great Britain (1990), no foreign athlete has ever come close to the podium.

The foreign athletes’ hurdle has always been that of descending the mountain. Things look to be coming into place for them as the years go by. The first athlete to reach the summit in the female category was Kwamboka Flavious Teresa from Kenya. Unfortunately for her, descending was an issue as she could only finished fourth.

In the male category Charles Kipkorir Kipsang from Kenya finished on the 6th position. “The race is a grueling one, more difficult than other races in Africa,” Kipkorir Kipsang told this reporter.

“What is an issue for me is the issue of descending the mountain. Hopefully in the next years, we (Kenyans) will be able to do better in the race.” “At the moment I am preparing for the Ottawa Marathon in Canada which will be coming up in May this year,” He added

Tata Carine made it three straight victories in the race after she won it in 2018, 2019 and now 2020
Tata Carine made it three straight victories in the race after she won it in 2018, 2019 and now 2020

Other winners

Veteran category — Men

Muam Emmanuel Kah

Taponfack   Patrice Romuald

Fotso Tagne Emile

Veteran category — Women

Nogha Brigit (2018, 2019 and now 2020)

Nkambi Martina

Junior Men

Saidu Habilar Modih

Yaya Ilyasu

Saidou Moumini

Junior Women

Ndifon Pamela

Ntume Macrita Yinyuy

Lateh Flore

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NBA Stars extol creation of Basketball Africa League
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Top NBA Basketball players react on the significance of a professional basketball league in Africa, with the creation of the Basketball Africa League set to kickoff on the 13 of March 2020.

During the NBA All-star 2019 Africa Luncheon in Charlotte, the NBA and FIBA, international basketball’s governing body announced the impending launch of the Basketball Africa League, BAL.

The BAL is a joint effort of FIBA and the NBA. Twelve teams are scheduled to start their inaugural season in March. The league’s logo has already been revealed as it celebrates the league’s Pan-African footprint, Africa’s diversity and continent’s rich basketball heritage.

The BAL is a joint effort of FIBA and the NBA. Twelve teams are scheduled to start their inaugural season on the 13 of March 2020. The teams to take part in the competition include: GSP of Algeria, Petro De Luanda (Angola), Zamalek (Egypt), GNBC (Madagascar), AS Police (Mali), AS Salé (Morocco), Ferrovià De Maputo (Mozambique), Rivers Hoopers BC (Nigeria), AS Douanes (Senegal), US MMonastir (Tunisia), and FAP (Cameroon). 

To Joel Embiid, “I think it’s really important because there’s a lot of special talent that the world doesn’t know about. If you look at the guys in the league who has been able to make it, there’s probably somebody better than me or has the potential to be better than me in the future. So, I think it’s a great initiative.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo said: “It’s amazing creating a league in Africa. Giving opportunities to African talent, and African players to go out there and showcase their talent. I knew, it was going to happen, and I am pretty happy That I was able to execute it with Nike and Masai (Ujiri) and all those people.”

Pascal Siakam equally notes the importance such a move will have on African basketball. He said: “Yeah, I think it’s incredible for Africa. It’s definitely the next step. It’s something that we as a continent should be proud of, and it shows that the world is recognizing our talent. That league is going to be a big thing for us. We have to continue to bring that awareness to the game and make sure that we pay it forward.”

Luol Deng, former NBA All-star has been named as the Global Ambassador for the Basketball Africa League. “We have a tremendous amount of talent in Africa, and I am excited that some of that talent will be showcased through our new league,” Deng said in a statement.

“I look forward to following some top African club teams when the inaugural season gets underway next month, and supporting the BAL in expanding its footprint around the world,” said the two-time NBA All-star who played a decade with the Chicago Bulls. Deng played 15 seasons in the league overall and finished with averages of 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Back in May last year, Amadou Gallo Fall was named President of the BAL. “I want to build an industry on the continent that’s going to flourish and self-sustain, and create jobs not only for the players on the court, but also for administrators, and those looking to work in a professional sports organization,” He said in an interview with CloseUp360.

“We’re not saying we want to be a feeder programme for the NBA, though if that happens, it’s great because we have so much talent. And the best of the best are always going to want to play in the best league in the world. But for us, it’s about looking to develop the game on the continent, and having basketball that is world-class and meets the highest standards and is followed by fans across the world.”

In 2010, Amadou left Dallas and moved closer to home to help the NBA open an office in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the decade since, he has played a pivotal role in extending the NBA’s global reach while expanding basketball’s footprint on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Gambian Striker Barrow Produces Man Of The Match Performance For FC Bologna
February 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay 

Gambia international and FC Bologna new signing Musa Barrow produced a man of the match performance in his side’s thrilling 3-2 victory over AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday night.
The former Hawks ace set up his teammate Riccardo Orsolini for the breakthrough goal with a stylish out foot assist to give the visitors an early lead.

The hosts leveled matters via Stefano Denswil’s own goal before Barrow made it 2-1 with a fierce deflected effort past the helpless Roma keeper.Beaming with confidence the Scorpions forward increased his tally and Bologna’s advantage six minutes after the break – latching on to a diagonal pass cutting inside the Roma box and neatly finding the far post to make it 3-1 and his third goal for his new club.The hosts reduced the deficit through on loan Arsenal winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s header 18 minutes from time.The former Atalanta forward was later taken off after a slight injury he sustained and made way for his Gambian compatriot Musa Juwara to mark his Bologna league debut 4 minutes from time.

Bologna said in a statement that the Gambian international will be assessed in the coming days after leaving the stadium with a foot injury following a heavy challenge by Roma’s Bruno Peres.

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Gambia’s Award Wining Referee Tops CAF List For CHAN Preparatory Course
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The three times Conferderation of Africa Football (CAF) Referee of the year Gambian born Bakary Papa Gassama is among the list of CAF prefered short list of Referees for the forth coming CHAN tournament in Cameroon 2020. Gassama top the merit list of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for the 6th edition of the Championships.

Among the list of Referees and Assistant Referees is Abdul Azziz Bolel Jawo (Asst Ref) who is also on the CAF merit list nominated as Assistant Referee for the Championship. Both Gassama and Bolel are currently in Cairo, Egypt at the invitation of the Continental body for a preparatory Course organized by CAF ahead of the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN), Cameroon 2020.

Gambia’s highest standing performer and Africa’s finest Referee Bakary Papa Gassama will be part of the panel on Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) while Abdul Azziz Bolel Jawo joins his colleagues as Assistant Referee. The course will be on theoretical and practical basis. The first session of the Course on Tuesday 4th February 2020 was a fitness test in which both Gassama and Bolel made the cut to the next stage.

The final tournament of the sixth edition of the CHAN competition designed exclusively for players featuring in their domestic leagues will be held from 4th -25th April 2020 in the cities of Yaounde, Garoua, Douala and Limbe. Meanwhile, the draw for the final tournament has been fixed for Monday, 17th February 2020, at Palais Polyvalent Des Sports de Yaoundé in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, at 19:00hrs local time.

Bakary Papa Gassama was born 10 February 1979 in Memeh village in the North Bank Region. He started refreeing in 2003 and became a FIFA badge holder in 2007. Gassama began to officiate matches at the Gambia League Championships until in 2012 when he was appointed to the Olympic Tournament in which he was the fourth official for the gold medal match between Mexico and Brazil. He also served as a referee at the 2012 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

In March 2013, FIFA named Gassama as one of the fifty potential referees for the 2014 World Cup. On 15 January 2014, FIFA announced that he would be one of the 25 referees for the tournament. He was assisted by Evarist Menkouandé and Felicien Kabanda. Gassama officiated the 3rd stage Match in Group B between the Netherlands and Chile. At the continental front, he also officiated the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Ghana and Cote D Ivoire.

On 27 April 2017, Gassama was selected as CAF’s sole Referee for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup Final in Russia. He was assisted by Claude Birumushahu of Burundi and Marwa Range from Kenya while his Video Assistant was Malang Diedhiou of Senegal.  He officiated the Group A Match between Mexico and New Zealand.

Gassama continued with his panel of Referees when FIFA nominted him further to officaited some matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Gassama won the CAF Referee of the Year three times on the trot. 2014, 2015, 2016

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Pacific Fc’s Pa Modou Kah Wants To Coach Gambia
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Pa Modou Kah
Pa Modou Kah

The former Gambia-born Norwegian International footballer Pa Modou Kah, who was recently appointed head coach of Canadian Premier League side Pacific FC, has expressed his ambition to become the Gambia’s national football team coach one day.

According to an article on the BBC Sport’s African Football column, Kah, 39, confirmed it will be his dream to one day lead the The Gambia’s Scorpions as coach.

“It’s a dream of mine to lead my country (The Gambia) in the future, but for now my focus is on Pacific FC. I need to prove myself here and build my career first,” he told BBC Sport.

”Africa should invest in their own coaches and develop them. To see Algeria and Senegal in the final of African Nations Cup made me proud.

”Two African coaches, who made their living as professional footballers in Europe, going back to lead their nations, that showed me that we have great young coaches coming up.”

The former Vancouver Whirecaps star, who was born in Banjul but later moved to join his parents in Norway, again said he wished things were different before he opted to play for Norway back in 2001 instead of the Gambia. However he said he has no regret for that choice, which he believed had paved the way for other black players such as John Carew and Joshua King, both of whom have their paternal side from the Gambia, and went on to represent the Scandinavian nation.

“I do not regret not playing for The Gambia, because back then our country wasn’t a strong football nation and we didn’t have the structure that was needed,” he explained.

“Did wish I played for them (The Gambia)? Absolutely, because that’s my country.

“For me it was a choice of which country provided the best opportunity to have a football career.

“I chose Norway because chances were bigger and having a European passport made it easier for me to be seen and move at that time.

“As a Gambian I’m proud to be the first fully black man beside John Carew (mixed race) to play for the country. I paved the way for the next generation of immigrant kids in Norway.

“Now it’s a norm and we have another Gambian in Joshua King playing for Norway. It makes me proud to see the what the power of football can do.

“If social media was around during my time growing up it would have been a world sensation seeing a fully black man playing for the Norwegian National team.

“I also have Norway to be thankful as it allowed me to have the career I had and now embark this new journey as a coach.”

Kah also believe Gambia now have what it takes to compete at international level and  all the country needs is a ‘vision  and structure’.

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Governor Nyesom Wike: “Real Madrid Academy Port Harcourt is a legacy for Rivers State”
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

Governor Wike announced to this latest Congress in Budapest that the Academy has now been completed and commissioned in September 2019

Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike speaking on the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress on February 4, 2020. (Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS Media)
Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike speaking on the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress on February 4, 2020. (Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS Media)

BUDAPEST, Hungary, February 5, 2020/ — During the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest in Hungary, the Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took the stage to share his vision for a project he holds dear – the Real Madrid Academy based in his capital, Port Harcourt.

Wike, who is described by many in Nigeria as the “Sports Loving Governor” began his presentation by reflecting on the genesis of his relationship with AIPS. “My relationship with AIPS started in 2017 when the president of AIPS Africa Mitchell Obi led a delegation to pay a coutesy call to me in Port Harcourt where I was pronounced and subsequently honoured in 2018 with the Power of Sports award in recognition of our humble contribution to the development of sports in Rivers State. Since then we have continued to relate with the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), as well as the AIPS, to advance our mutual interest. AIPS is an organisation I hold in high regard, for its commitment, for the promotion and development of sports across the world.”

At the 81st AIPS Congress in Brussels two years ago in May, where Governor Wike was decorated with the AIPS Africa Power of Sports award, he gave a hint about his plan to build a Real Madrid Football Academy. Later, in the same month, AIPS President Gianni Merlo was invited to Nigeria to witness the laying of the project’s foundation on May 28, 2018 by the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad.

Governor Wike announced to this latest Congress in Budapest that the Academy has now been completed and commissioned in September 2019 and has already admitted its first set of students from a local youth team that won a national football championship. The facility can accommodate 500 boarding students, he added.

“It is true that the future of any country or society is revealed in the character and quality of its youths, but what the youths eventually become in life is also founded on the quality of education and skills they acquire to the age of responsitbility.

“Sports and education are both important and can co-exist as a medium to drive the development, character and prosperity of our youths; this was the motivation for the establishment of the Real Madrid Academy, Port Harcourt.

“Football, among other sports, presents itself as one of the best possible ways to raising generations of young people with character and determination to achieve outstanding results and prosperity,” Governor Wike stated.

He added: “The Real Madrid Academy is expected to foster youth development by nurturing and producing talented football players for the state as well as inculcating critical skills and life values that will benefit our youths beyond the football sphere. The academy is a legacy for Rivers State.”

While the Academy is focused on nurturing Rivers State-born talents majorly, Governor Wike made it clear that 30 percent of the academy’s admission slots will be reserved for the rest of Nigeria and Africa. In this way, the academy is also making an impact on the continent. WIke also assured that the academy will continue even after his tenure as governor has come to an end.

*Courtesy of International Sports Press Association (AIPS)

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